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AZ sells rare cancer drug to Sanofi

French firm’s rare disease unit Genzyme will pay $300m for the treatment

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Sanofi's rare diseases unit Genzyme will pay AstraZeneca up to $300 million for the global rights to the firm's rare disease drug Caprelsa (vandetanib).

The deal, which includes an upfront payment of $165m and further milestone payments based on the drug's performance of up to $135m, will see Genzyme take complete control of the medullary thyroid carcinoma treatment - a rare disease with few medical treatments.

Caprelsa is not however a blockbuster drug and saw sales of just $48m last year. But the treatment is in phase III development for differentiated thyroid carcinoma, with the study expected to finish in the second half of 2015 - something that could boost sales, if approved.

David Meeker, Genzyme's president and CEO, said: “The addition of Caprelsa represents a strong strategic fit for our rare endocrinology portfolio and underscores Genzyme's commitment to addressing unmet needs in the thyroid community.

“We look forward to bringing our rare disease expertise to appropriate patients with advanced stage thyroid carcinoma.”

Caprelsa works as a once-daily oral treatment and works by blocking the blood supply to the tumour, by slowing the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor pathway and reducing the growth and survival of the tumour through epidermal growth factor receptor and RET pathways.

Caprelsa was first approved by the FDA and launched in April 2011 with a European approval a year later - peak sales are expected to be around $112m a year by 2016, according to analysts.

This is a much lower prediction than the blockbuster figures originally touted, when the drug was also being investigated for non-small cell lung cancer. The drug however failed to succeed in clinical trials involving this patient population.

AstraZeneca said the divestment deal is subject to closing conditions, including the receipt of antitrust clearance from the US Federal Trade Commission.

In a statement, the firm said it expects to complete the transaction in the second half the year, adding that this will not impact its financial guidance for 2015.

Article by
Ben Adams

27th July 2015

From: Sales

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